The Music that Moves Me

Fresh Air is an outstanding interview program that airs daily on my NPR station. The host, Terry Gross, interviews writers, comedians, musicians, politicians, scientists -- anyone really -- and rarely lets me down. Yesterday she interviewed Stephen Colbert, a person I greatly admire, about his love of music.

I also consider myself a huge fan of music (aren't we all?) and I started thinking about the songs that inspire me. Inspiration comes in many forms and I don't expect this to be the last column of this sort. Here are a few songs that cause a stir within me, excite me, and get me to think when I hear them. Click the song titles to listen to the songs on YouTube.

What are yours?

"3's & 7's" by Queens of the Stone Age

When I hear this song I immediately look for an El Camino so I can slide across the hood. Even though I drive a Honda Civic, if this song hits the radio, I'm trying to jump it General Lee style.  I may live in San Francisco, but deep down I'm a country soul and this song never ceases to thrill me. This song is about adventure, daring, recklessness, and fun. This is a song for fighting, kissing the girl, and child-like wonder.

"No Leaf Clover" by Metallica

I've never cared much for metal, but I love Metallica. Almost everything they do is epic, but it wasn't until I heard their S&M album, a live performance alongside the San Francisco Symphonic Orchestra, that they absolutely clicked. There's something about the beautiful smoothness of the orchestra paired with the hard rock that is just awesome. This song has great build up, great momentum, and an amazing and heroic finish. This is a song about difficult decisions and rising to the occasion. This song makes me want to create champions for whom to cheer.

"Einstein on the Beach" by Philip Glass

You may hate the repetition of Philip Glass, but there's something about it that just rocks my skull. This song is an amazing love song. I don't fully understand it in the way I don't really understand physics and the way the world works. This song is beautiful and it makes me want to create beautiful worlds and environment. Much in the same way viewing Avatar the first time was a journey of exploration, I want to create something for players that evokes a similar feeling of "oh my god, wow!" This song does that for me.

"Stella was a diver and she was always down" by Interpol

This is a song of sadness for me. Why? That's a story and a memory for me. This song is about loneliness, longing, sadness, and mistakes. This is about lost potential and missed opportunities. To me this means exploration, solitude, failure, and hope. How does this manifest itself into a game? Who knows?

"This Modern Love" by Bloc Party

This is a song about love and hope. It's a happy song, a song for walking through the woods or being with your favorite person on an otherwise empty mountain. This sound bounces and pulses with life and excitement. It always makes me think of Beth and it always makes me smile. This song brings about some of the best human emotions, which makes it a good thing to think about when designing.

"Foreplay" by Boston


"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen

The first time I heard this song was when I saw Wayne's World in theaters. I'm pretty sure that's the case for many people my age. When the guitar bridge starts, it's time to head bang. This is an incredible song by an incredible band that to me means epic fun. It's bigger than life, hyperbolic, and way overblown. If Hyperbole Games had a theme song, this would be a strong contender. To me, this song is about a certain level of wild, unbridled emotion and energy. It's ridiculous and I want it played at my funeral. And the birth of my children.

What are the songs that get you going? 


The only _song_ that I gain some sort of inspiration from is What's Left of the Flag from Flogging Molly. That song is what plays in my head when I'm attempting something physically difficult and it stems from my days as a whitewater kayaker.

Instead, I gain inspiration... or mood changes... more from albums. I have never been one to make mix tapes or have an MP3 player full of random songs. I like albums in their entirety... or even complete discographies.

Nine Inch Nails is one of those groups that I can listen too for a broad range of reasons and be inspired/moved by it. Currently the With Teeth and Fragile (Left) albums are my workout music. They really get me going... while something like Ghosts I-V is perfect for tackling quiet tasks like writing or even doing chores.

Pearl Jam is one of my long-standing favorite groups and I've shared a ton of memories with my friends and random strangers over their albums and concerts. Due to this, I am always more friendly and talkative when listening to their music.

I love blues... all blues... from Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, and Sonny Boy Williamson all the way up to Blues Traveler... blues makes me want to be free. Makes me feel adventurous. Makes me tap my feet and want to jam with other musicians. I love playing harmonica, and I dream of getting a jam group together regularly to play... so blues makes me want to go outside and explore the world.

I agree -- I'm ultimately an album guy myself. It's just difficult to post such things here. Typically, I listen to the albums from which these songs came in their entirety.